Those in search of a break that's rich in traditional island holiday appeal will be right at home in Perissa. Set along the east coast of Santorini, the region offers a wonderful expanse of volcanic black-sand beaches filled with sun loungers, beach bars and cultural sights. Unlike the cliffside towns of Fira and Oia, Perissa has a quieter ambience that's ideal for relaxing with family and friends.

    With no shortage of charm, this resort destination on Greece’s island of romance is an ideal mix of new and old, with a healthy dose of culture and just a little bit of party – the perfect recipe for a summer getaway. From days on the water jet skiing to discovering billion-year-old fossils and exploring one of the island’s most impressive churches, Perissa is sure to deliver on those island holiday vibes.

    What are the best things to do in Perissa?

    1

    Museum of Minerals and Fossils

    Discover fossils that predate humans

    Within the humble coastal village of Perissa, you’ll find the Museum of Minerals and Fossils – an interesting museum brimming with geological discoveries. Founded by the Cultural Society of Thera, exhibitions of fossils and minerals from Santorini, wider Greece and beyond are on show. Containing some incredibly rare and unique fossils and mineral stones, the collection is highly appealing.

    Children and adults, lovers of science and history will all enjoy a visit to the Museum of Minerals and Fossils. The collection includes pieces dating back as far as 1.5 billion years, with some of the newest members only a mere 50,000 years old. The museum offers a deeper look into the geological history of Santorini and the surrounding region.

    Location: Perissa 847 03, Greece

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 2 pm (opens on Sunday mornings in winter)

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    2

    Beachfront bars

    Sip cocktails by Perissa’s famous black-sand beach

    Stretching along the shorefront of the iconic black-sand beach that runs along the coastal town of Perissa are many top bars and restaurants to enjoy the best of Santorini’s sunshine-filled weather. From beachfront sun loungers under grass-roofed umbrellas to buzzing evening bar vibes, there’s no shortage of places to experience the best of the area.

    The choices are endless – sprawled across 3 km of black-sand beachfront, the hardest decision is where to perch for the day. Better yet, why not move around to sample a bit of everything from day to night for a real beach bar adventure?

    Location: Perissa 847 03, Greece

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    3

    Watersports on Perissa Beach

    Try jet skiing, flyboarding, parasailing and more

    Watersports can be hard to come by in Santorini, given its limited low-lying beach areas and extensive cliffy regions. Luckily, Perissa offers a wide variety of fun-filled watersports activities. As one of the key beach resort areas in Santorini, the selection is wider than elsewhere across the island.

    Jump aboard a jet ski and carve up the azure waters surrounding Perissa or take in the views from above with a parasailing excursion that sees you floating up to 100 metres above the water. Try your hand at flyboarding – an interesting watersport unlike any other that allows you to glide above the surface and dip and dive through waves like a dolphin. If heading below the surface is more your style, there are plenty of opportunities to snorkel and scuba dive too.

    Location: Perissa 847 03, Greece

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    4

    Church of Holy Cross in Perissa

    One of Santorini’s largest churches

    One of the largest in Santorini, The Church of Holy Cross, is set within the charming central square of Perissa. Overlooking the beach, its whitewashed exterior and vibrant blue domes perfectly contrast against the volcanic black sands that dominate the shoreline around Perissa.

    Originally built in the 1930s, the church was destroyed by a major earthquake that struck Santorini in 1956. During its reconstruction, it was discovered that the original church had been built over 2 3-aisled basilicas, revealing more than anyone had anticipated. Unfortunately, they were destroyed during the construction.

    Location: Perissa 847 03, Greece

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    5

    Perissa Beach

    The best party beach

    Perissa Beach is the most popular on Santorini among backpackers and those looking to party. The vibe is still fairly relaxed since nowhere on the island has the high-energy atmosphere that the likes of Ios or Mykonos are famous for. Instead, you can expect to find some cool beach clubs, as well as plenty of local restaurants, and budget hotels and villas. The black pebble beach and its beautiful, blue seas get very busy during the high season, but it creates a fantastic atmosphere. When people talk about Santorini’s “Black Beach”, this place on the southeast coast of the island is usually what they mean, despite the fact that most of the island’s beaches are also black.

    Location: Perissa 847 03, Greece

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    6

    Trek up to Ancient Thera

    The view alone is worth the climb

    The ancient city of Thera once dominated the peak of Mésa Vounó, the hill in the southeast corner of Santorini. Relatively few buildings remain standing, beyond foundations and short walls, but those few are interesting to look around. The Agora (public square) in the town centre is in particularly good condition. The view across Perissa and Kamari beaches is spectacular, but be prepared for strong winds on the exposed hilltop. 

    Getting up there is quite a challenge as it involves driving up a winding road (including 22 U-turns), paying a small entrance fee and then hiking the last 600 metres to the town. It’s worth the journey, though, as it’s a lot less crowded than the ancient ruins of Akrotiri. You can get in for free if you visit on the last weekend in September or the first Sunday of each month between November and March.

    Location: Epar.Od. Mesarias-Archeas Thiras, Santorini 847 00, Greece

    Open: Summer: Wednesday–Monday from 8.30 am to 4 pm. Winter: Wednesday–Monday from 8.30 am to 3.30 pm

    Phone: +30 2286 023217

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    photo by Klearchos Kapoutsis (CC BY 2.0) modified

    7

    Tranquilo Bar

    For locally-sourced vegetarian dining

    If lazing in the sun and soaking up a laid back atmosphere is how you prefer to spend your days, Tranquilo Bar offers one of the best locations in Perissa. The bright and relaxed decor lends itself to the island vibe with sun loungers and grass umbrellas. Set right on the beachfront, you can easily move from beach to bar at Tranquilo.

    Known as a hotspot for fresh and delicious vegetarian cuisine, the bar serves up an excellent selection of international and Greek dishes as well as veggie-based burgers. With an extensive cocktail menu, you can take the chilled-out vibes from your day and turn up the volume for a party on the beachfront at night. Great for your island getaway, Tranquilo offers some of the best vegetarian food and beach parties in this corner of Santorini.

    Location: Perissa 847 03, Greece

    Open: Daily from 8 am to midnight

    Phone: +30 2286 085230

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    Kiri Nowak | Contributing Writer

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